The U.S. economy registered just 0.5% growth in the first quarter, as reported by the Department of Commerce. That equates to practically no growth. Compared to Japan and Europe, America’s economy is supposed to be a shining light in a global sea of chaos but that light is fading despite an improving job market.
Perhaps U.S. businesses and politicians are overlooking a valuable tool to boost economic growth; hire more women. According to FOX Business Network anchor Cheryl Casone’s new book, ‘The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully’, the U.S. economy could be growing at a clip of 5% if women were equal players in corporate culture and the U.S. labor market, according to the International Monetary Fund. That equates to $4.3 trillion in economic growth.
Those numbers alone are not enough to get more women back to work. Especially those that took a step back from the corporate world to raise a family. FOXBusiness.com posed these questions to our colleague Cheryl on how women can take charge of their own Comebacks – successfully.
1. What struck me about 'The Comeback' is not only is this book about women returning to work but it is also about making smart choices when you leave. What is a basic ‘To Do’ list if you plan to leave your job even if you have no intention of going back to work?
Many of the moms that I interviewed never planned to return to work. Something happened “after” their children were born (a divorce, a death, a financial loss) that required them to return. When you are getting ready for either your maternity leave or you are resigning, and even if you think you won’t come back, there are things you can do. First, I recommend you get the personal emails and addresses of colleagues that you have good relationships with. Keep in touch with them to say hello or update them on your status at home, mail them a birth announcement, and make sure you somehow take this information on a portable drive or print out. Also, make sure you keep any business contacts you have cultivated, saving them in the same fashion. Having that list “just in case” is crucial.
2. If you leave your job as a vice president the chances of returning to the workplace after a multi-year hiatus with the same title and salary to match are slim to none. What's the best way to negotiate your paycheck when coming back?
You are correct, the moms I interviewed who made their comeback, came back at a lesser salary, and a lower title. That was the tough part. The truth is that “any” break from the workforce can put you at risk when it comes to salary. Your experience pre-children should be put clearly on your resume at the top, but instead of the dates and titles of your positions, put the “SKILLS” section right after your name and contact information. Example: “led a team of 20 on a multi-level marketing push for a Fortune 500 company”. Make sure when you get the interview, you continue to highlight your achievements and accomplishments, and don’t necessarily bring up the fact there is a resume gap.
3. Are there any Fortune 500 companies or organizations that are making strides in helping women return to the workforce without having to start from scratch?
The biggest push to get moms back to work is happening at the banks. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) have all implemented diversity programs that bring in women (men too) that have been out of the workforce for a period of time. They train them, they groom them, and they work with participants to reintroduce them to corporate culture. Many law firms and technology companies appear to be taking the lead of the financial sector, realizing that moms have incredible skills and experience that has been overlooked for decades, if not forever.
4. My mom always worked growing up and it absolutely made me a more confident person and taught me a good work ethic. I was pleased to read in your book that children of working moms, in most cases, benefit. However, this is still an emotional hurdle for most women, why?
Every mom I spoke with told me the guilt was the toughest thing, second only to insecurity about making their comeback. The myth: Will my children suffer? Will I miss key moments with them? What if there’s an incident at school and I’m several miles away? The truth? Your kids will be fine. In fact, the example you set by going back to work may leave them better off.
5. Technology can really help people stay current even if you are not working. What are three things stay-at-home moms should do on the tech-front that will give them a head start when and if they decide to return to work?
Get on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), and Instagram. These are all fun social media sites and apps, but more importantly, this is a network you can build from the comfort of your home. I discuss in the book ways to use each platform to your advantage.
6. If you're going to make a comeback you want it to be the right one. Before you even send out any resumes, what are some key steps women can take to help guide them back into either their original careers or a brand new one?
This process can take months, but it’s the most crucial part of making your Comeback. Do a complete evaluation or reevaluation of yourself from the inside out. What industry appeals to you? What would your dream title be if I could snap my fingers and give it to you? If you are going to leave your children and go back to work, you should love, or at least enjoy the work you are doing. Making a comeback has to be worth it, not just for your kids, but for you.
*The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Suzanne O’Halloran is Managing Editor of FOXBusiness.com and a graduate of Boston College. Follow her on @suzohalloran.